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Case studiesHave you ever treated a patient with an interesting or uncommon condition? Have you ever had exceptional results when treating a patient? Have you every tried a new approach that had a particularly good or interesting outcome? Have you ever treated a condition where the results defied all the received wisdom of Chinese (or Western) medicine? If so, have you ever wanted to share this information with colleagues - perhaps on a wide scale? If your answer to any of these questions is "yes" then why not consider writing up a case study?
Case studies have been integral to Chinese medicine and the way it has been transmitted for centuries. A case study usually documents in detail the process of treatment and the response of an individual patient (Lao et al 2002). It is a format that is particularly suited to the individual practitioner. Based on normal clinical practice, the only investment that you require is time for reflection and writing. It also provides you with a convenient and relatively simple starting point for conducting research.
For you as an individual practitioner writing a case study, there is the opportunity to examine and reflect on a course of treatment you have given to an individual patient. In addition, your systematic analysis of the case can result in better treatment of other patients. And, by sharing your experience with others, you may develop contacts with other practitioners treating similar conditions.
Writing a case study can also benefit the profession as a whole. Often, case studies can be the basis for the introduction of new therapeutic methods, thereby contributing to the evolution and development of the profession. They can also be the catalysts for further research, as innovative treatment modalities raise new, interesting questions that demand further exploration. And, they can even lead to getting funding for a larger project!
The British Acupuncture Council has, for several years, promoted the writing of case studies by offering a small prize to those accepted for publication in the European Journal of Oriental Medicine (www.ejom.co.uk).
Suggested Guidelines for Case Study PresentationsYou may wish to use this as a guide to areas it may be appropriate to cover in a case study.
The case study
Briefly state what it is about the case that prompted you to record and submit it.
Information about the patient
Treatment Plan and General Principles
Treatment Details in Practice
Following these guidelines will produce a very thorough case study. However, case studies can also be powerful and effective when less detailed. Be guided by what you would need to know as a practitioner reading the study, and write accordingly.
ReferencesLao L, Sherman K, Bovey M, "The role of acupuncture schools and individual practitioners in acupuncture research", Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, 3 2002, pp 32-38.
MacPherson H, Kaptchuk T (eds) "Acupuncture in practice: case history insights from the West". New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1997.
Chen J, Wang N (eds) "Acupuncture Case Histories from China.